Convergent evolution Intelligent Design speciation

Convergent evolution: Speciation in butterflies an unusually tough mess

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Common palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra baliensis) Bali I.jpg
Palmfly (Elymnias hypermnestra baliensis)/Charlesjsharp, Creative Commons

Convergent evolution of mimetic species confounds classification. From ScienceDaily:

The scientists discovered numerous cryptic species-two or more species erroneously classified as one species-as well as single species mistakenly described as two or three. Frequently, species discriminated with genetic data are each others’ closest relatives, but can be distinguished by stark genetic differences; this suggests a lack of interbreeding — a hallmark of species distinctiveness.

However, in Elymnias, Lohman and his associates found that cryptic species were unrelated to each other and resulted from a novel cause: mimicry. Different species on different islands of the Indo-Australian Archipelago frequently evolved to resemble a single, widespread model species, and different Elymnias species therefore evolved to resemble each other. Lohman and his colleagues conducted the comprehensive phylogenetic study using DNA sequence data from over 200 specimens representing nearly every species of Elymnias. Paper. (public access) – Chia-Hsuan Wei, David J. Lohman, Djunijanti Peggie, Shen-Horn Yen. An illustrated checklist of the genus Elymnias Hübner, 1818 (Nymphalidae, Satyrinae). ZooKeys, 2017; 676: 47 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.676.12579 More.

Convergent evolution is a remarkable process that currently lacks a clear explanation. How, exactly, do the butterflies evolve to resemble each other over a limited period of time?

See also: Can we get past the “species” concept and learn something new about life?

and

Nothing says “Darwin snob” like indifference to the mess that the entire concept of speciation is in

20 Replies to “Convergent evolution: Speciation in butterflies an unusually tough mess

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    “Different species on different islands of the Indo-Australian Archipelago frequently evolved to resemble a single, widespread model species, and different Elymnias species therefore evolved to resemble each other.”

    Why? What possible advantage is there for 2 or more species of the same kind of insect to resemble each other? Doesn’t that just confuse mating? And I have to believe that predators (e.g., birds) simply eat whatever butterfly flutters by. Or is the species being copied known to be poisonous, etc.?

    And we know they “evolved” to make the change? So, once an “evolved” species has finished “evolving”, can it still mate successfully with unevolved (and not so pretty) individuals of its original species? I’m not seeing the “improved fitness” here.

  2. 2
    Bob O'H says:

    Convergent evolution is a remarkable process that currently lacks a clear explanation. How, exactly, do the butterflies evolve to resemble each other over a limited period of time?

    There’s a large group who have been studying this (and other) questoins in Heliconius butterflies. For them it’s mostly about wing patterns – a lot of species try to look alike, and form these “mimicry rings”. In one case there’s even a moth mimicking butterflies.

    vmahuna @ 1-

    Why? What possible advantage is there for 2 or more species of the same kind of insect to resemble each other?

    This has also been well studied in Heliconius. Basically, predator learn to not eat things that taste nasty, so tasty butterflies will mimic those that taste bad, and don’t get attacked as often. (of course, biology being biology, it gets a lot more complicated than that).

  3. 3
    gpuccio says:

    Bob O’H:

    “of course, biology being biology, it gets a lot more complicated than that)”

    Well said. Which is like saying:

    of course, biology being amazingly designed, it gets a lot more complicated than that

    And even more complicated it becomes, every day! 🙂

  4. 4
    ET says:

    So butterflies know which species taste nasty and rearrange their genetics so that they can mimic them? Butterflies know that they can look like predators so they rearrange their genetics to mimic them?

    Really?

  5. 5
    PaV says:

    Why don’t you read Goldsmith’s (?) “The Material Basis for Evolution.” That ought to help a lot in this area. He was, of course, a specialist in this field, and when confronted with a particular “species” he found difficult to classify, he found out that in fact this ‘new’ species was the same species as the others, EXCEPT that it nested in an area where the soil properties were different. I suppose today we would call this epigenetic effects.

    So much for “speciation”.

  6. 6
    Bob O'H says:

    ET @ 4 – no, that’s not how evolution works. It’s enough that a tasty butterfly looks similar enough to a non-tasty that a predator can be confused between the two. That is enough to give a selective advantage, and a more similar looking morph will have a greater advantage. And they don’t rearrange their genetics, mutation does that.

  7. 7
    ET says:

    Yes, Bob O’H, that is not how blind watchmaker evolution works. But then again blind watchmaker evolution cannot account for the existence of butterflies.

    That said, with Intelligent Design evolution it is possible for organisms to rearrange their genetics

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    Regardless of the advantageous or deleterious changes butterflies remain butterflies.

    Ok?

  9. 9
    Bob O'H says:

    Et – what’s the mechanism proposed by intelligent design by which organisms to rearrange their genetics?

  10. 10
    ET says:

    Internal genetic engineering. James Shapiro calls it natural genetic engineering.

  11. 11
    Bob O'H says:

    ET – how do the butterflies carry out this internal genetic programming of their genetics?

  12. 12
    News says:

    Bob O’H is mistaken in believing that tasty butterflies evolved wing patterns to resemble nasty-tasting ones, as a general rule. Setting aside the near-impossibility of actually doing that, the Viceroy, for example, tastes bad, just as the Monarch it mimics does. Darwinism conditions us to accept easy explanations, so no matter.

    http://blogs.britannica.com/20.....y-monarch/

  13. 13
    ET says:

    how do the butterflies carry out this internal genetic programming of their genetics?

    Dr Spetner’s “built-in responses to environmental cues” is one possible mechanism.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    News- Perhaps the predators go to butterfly identification school. 🙂

    So if a bird eats a nasty tasting butterfly that butterfly is still dead. And if the bird cannot share that knowledge with others then there would be an issue as to how they know which butterflies taste bad.

  15. 15
    ET says:

    And what happens when birds evolve the use of condiments?

  16. 16
    mike1962 says:

    ET @ 15,

    They make hot dogs?

  17. 17
    ET says:

    Or just dip the butterflies, caterpillars and worms in different sauces. (Dijon ketchup- BNL)

  18. 18
    Bob O'H says:

    News – I have the suspicion you don’t know what you are on about. Yes, nasty tasting butterflies can also mimic each other. That’s called Müllerian mimicry. As you would know if you had followed the link to the Wikipedia page I gave @ 2. But that doesn’t mean that Batesian mimicry doesn’t exist. I also didn’t say mimicry happens as a general rule. We know it does happen, and we have an explanation for why it does.

    My guess is that your claim about the the near-impossibility of mimicry is not based on any knowledge of the systems. If you can actually demonstrate that mimicry is near-impossible, then please write it up & send it to Nature. There is no way they wouldn’t want to publish something as ground-breaking as that, if it’s scientifically valid.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Bob O’H- Has Nature published any papers that demonstrate blind, mindless processes can produce mimicry? Has anyone demonstrated those processes can produce butterflies?

    THAT would be ground-breaking research so why hasn’t anyone done it?

  20. 20
    hnorman5 says:

    I think there’s an interesting bind in Darwinian thinking about mimicry. I would tend to doubt that insects can recognize subtle distinctions in patterns. However, if they can and that is indeed what happens, then it is not natural selection at all but intelligent selection. The fitness landscape is smooth because there’s a conscious agent selecting for a target pattern. Actually, the peppered moth is a fairer example of natural selection. Although a conscious agent is doing the selecting, intelligence does not play a role in it. It’s just its ability to see the moth that’s the decisive factor.

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